Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Triumphant Sweep for Team NYP at FIRA Hurocup 2013

Red Atom during competition
It was great to hear that Team NYP won 11 medals – three Golds, four Silvers and four Bronzes – and maintained our third position in the overall competition at the recent Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA) Hurocup 2013. This is the third consecutive year we have been placed third in the competition. 

The international robotics competition for humanoid robots took place from 24th to 29th August at the 18th FIRA Roboworld Cup & Congress 2013 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The SEG team is, by now, well known for creating the humanoid robot named Red Atom (kid-size robot). Red Atom was the fastest robot in the 2012 Hurocup and had rewritten its own FIRA Roboworld Cup Sprint record set in UK last year by covering over 6-metres with a timing of 25.50s.  The old record was 29.02s.

The FIRA Robotworld Cup is the oldest robotics competition in the world, and the HuroCup is one of the most challenging categories in existence. In this category, a single humanoid robot must compete in smaller events of Sprint, Weight Lifting, Penalty Kicking, Obstacle Running, Lift & Carry, Basketball, Wall Climbing and Marathon.

The events collectively challenge the robotics team in a broad range of skills central to humanoid motion, spanning from complex motion planning to human-robot interaction.
It was great to meet one of the team members, Chia Huat Soon, a year 3 student from Diploma in Mechatronics Engineering (ME). He spoke with passion about his experience at the competition, saying:  “I really gave my life to the humanoid.”

Here’s my interview with him:

1.What made you take part in this competition?
I am interested in robotics and am a member of humanoid robotic club. I started as a team member participating in the Singapore Robotic Games 2012. Now, I am privileged to be able to participate in international competitions.

2.What role did you play in your team?
I am the gating personnel in my team. In a humanoid team, we need very specific roles for all team members. There are four roles – gating, logistics, vision and mechanics. Gating requires programming of the robot’s walking motion. Logistics will take care of the parts and ensures the correct parts are given to other team members. Vision personnel will do the programming for the robot’s ‘vision’. Lastly, the mechanics will take care of the robot’s structure.

3.How long did it take your team to prepare for the competition?
We prepared for 3 to 4 months before the competition. We stayed back in school from morning until 8pm every night. We did all the brainstorming of different strategies to use. As our robot was playing quite a number of games, we needed to practise and strategise first in order to execute it perfectly in the competition.

4.What is the biggest challenge you faced and what you learnt from it?
We faced a very unexpected incident during the preparation. For the Sprint category, we need to make our robot run forwards and backwards for 3 meters in the fastest time. During preparation, the robot just sprinted forward and stopped. It simply could not go backwards. This was the worst scenario possible and we didn’t expect it at all. So we sat together, asking each other questions.  We kept debugging the robot and finally fixed some minor bugs in the programming, much to our relief.

5.What have you learnt from taking part in this competition?
When we seek advice from our supervisor, he will ask questions. These questions help us to think more critically, and we learnt a lot about the subject matter, and also learned problem-solving skills.

6.Did you think you had a good chance of winning? Why?
I was not really sure as we were competing amongst many teams but I’m very confident that our Red Atom will break the records of Sprint category, and it did.

7.Any words to aspiring SEG students who are interested in the competition?
I think you need passion and you will need to sacrifice your time. For robotics competitions, you will need knowledge of robotics and will have to be meticulous. Once there is a minor issue in the robot, the whole robot can malfunction.

8.Any shout outs?
I would like to thank my group members, and my supervisors Dr. Kevin Lim, Dr. Zhao Mei Jun and Ms. Delfia Kiew and others who have supported me along the way. They gave me the chance to explore the world of robotics by sending me to this competition.

(From left) Dr Zhao Mei Jun, Ong Xing Long, Lionel Chin Kang Wee, Chua Ming En, 
Chia Huat Soon and Toh Wei Yan
Well done SEG. We are proud of you!

Here’s a little more about the eight events:

Sprint: This event is a short distance race for humanoid robots. The goal is for the robots to move as quickly as possible from the start to the finish line.

Penalty Kick: In this event, the robot must execute a kick at a given spot and kick the ball into the ball area where it must execute a second kick and kick the ball directly into the goal post. There is a stationary goal keeper to prevent the robot from scoring a goal and this increases the challenge for the event.

Obstacle Run: The robot must move from one end of the playing field to the other as quickly as possible. A number of obstacles are distributed over the playing field. The robot must navigate around the obstacles without touching the obstacle and reach the end zone.
  
Lift and Carry: This event requires robots to use active balancing. A small basket will be attached to the robots. The robots will walk across an uneven terrain. Once the robot reaches the end of the uneven terrain, the referee adds small heavy obstacles into the basket. The robot must continue to cross the uneven terrain with the added weight. The robot that can carry the most weight is declared the winner of the event.

Marathon: This event is an endurance race spanning over 120m. 

Weight Lifting: Robots are required to lift and balance heavy weights.

Basketball: The robot must throw a ball into a 30cm and 60cm high basket.

Wall Climbing: The challenge aims to foster research in complex motion planning. The goal of the robot is to climb as high as possible within a 5 minute period. 

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By Kiong Xiang Yi, Year 3, Diploma in Digital and Precision Engineering


Xiang Yi likes reading and travelling.  He is new to writing articles. He believes in the saying, "if you are determined to learn, no one can stop you". His dream is to travel around the world and explore it, make new friends and try new things. Being involved in SEG Club and other CCAs, he knows that going through challenging experiences can make him a stronger person and help him take on more challenges in the future.

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